I also wanted to see how they were doing with the new super, how far they'd gotten. The last time I'd looked, they'd only started building comb in the box. I had had a queen excluder between the brood box and the supers, but I pulled it out in impatience during the last inspection, as last year the queen hadn't left the established brood chamber at all, so I hoped that she wouldn't this year either.
I was well rewarded with my hope.
I was pretty amazed. Last year, when the bees first came and were establishing themselves, they had managed to fill three-quarters of one brood box by this time, and there wasn't even the thought of supers or honey that I could harvest at the this point, but it was pretty clear that they were doing really well right now. One of the keepers on the local email lists had said that the local yellow clover was going crazy with the unusually damp spring, so that we should all expect a lot of nectar flow. I still hadn't quite expected *this*.
I'll probably do the shift the next time I go into the brood box, but it's good to just get the frame in. A local keeper had just done a study where he found that the keepers that just left all the old brood comb and frames in the box were less likely to have a die off than those that regularly circulated out old frames. It was a correlation, not causation, so he doesn't know why the die offs were less with old comb. Just that those with those tendencies had those results. So I'm unlikely to switch out a lot. And thinking it through some more I probably should have just worked to swap out the broken frame. Next time...
Still... this time I stole a bit more honey, and hopefully made a bit more room for the bees to fill in the brood box. They don't seem in any more of a situation where they will swarm, so this should just help that.
It's also kind of fun to see all the powdered "ghost" bees zooming around, though it does kind of perturb the poor girls. I do see a much higher mite count on the bottom board when I do this than when I don't, which probably just means that they're pulling more mites off each other and themselves when I do this. I'm supposed to do it on a weekly basis to really do a good job of it, but I just don't manage to get into the hive that often. Things are so busy during the summer. But I am happy that I remembered to do it while I did have the brood box open. There have been times when I've had the sugar all ready for it and I just totally forget in the midst of the adrenaline rush of having the hive open.
I will admit that with practice the adrenaline rush is getting easier to handle. I'm now able to observe while I have the hive open, when at the beginning, it was just so overwhelming. Now I know better what to do, what to expect, how to do it, and how to keep the girls from getting crushed or not worrying too much when two or three of them do get damaged. So I'm not quite as exhausted by the time I'm done doing the work that I outlined for myself. I'm still impressed by the super experienced keeps who can go through eight hives at a shot when they're in a beeyard. Practice really does make perfect.
When he was done scraping the two frames, I put my equipment on and popped the two frames, still coated in honey, back into the top super. It should make it more attractive to the bees, and they may get going on building those up quickly with the incentive. The old empty frame I put next to the hive, and that night some creature dragged it away from the hive to try and eat it. But the plastic foundation foiled it and I let the girls clean it off the next day. Also the next day John put the pan of mashed wax out by the hive, so that the bees could eat some of the honey, but it was so hot out there that the whole pan just melted. One bee got caught, but that was it, and it cooled with the evening, so when I found it, the wax had solidified into a cake on top of a pool of pure honey. We poured that honey into another jar, and it's great. There are two jars from John's mashing that are pretty cloudy and I'm afraid he got more wax into them than I usually like having. We'll see how it settles, as the wax should come to the top. Eventually. *laughs*
For a beginning of the summer harvest, we got three quarts and another two-thirds of a pint, so about ten pounds of honey. Given than I'd gotten 40 pounds from this colony last year, I wouldn't be surprised if I got a lot more honey this year than last. But they also started a lot faster and were at great numbers even in March, so I'm just watching them very closely to make sure they have no reason to swarm.